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FEC says Twitter acts lawfully in restricting the New York Post's article on Hunter Biden

FEC says Twitter acts lawfully in restricting the New York Post's article

September 17, 2021: According to documents made public Wednesday, the Federal Election Commission had ruled that Twitter did not violate federal elections law when it restricted the distribution of a New York Post article with unverified claims about Biden’s son, Hunter.

It also found Twitter couldn’t violate the law, which adds the warning labels to Trump’s tweets or allegedly “shadow banning” conservative viewpoints.

According to a statement by the commission’s Vice Chair Allen Dickerson and Commissioner James “Trey” Trainor III, the Republicans, the agency found in a unanimous decision that Twitter had made correct decisions based on commercial reasons.

They wrote that “one need not shrink from the difficult policy questions involved with social media moderation to realize that they are not, at their core, campaign finance issues,” saying that the issues fall outside of the scope of the FEC’s mandate. They added that Congress is the appropriate forum for the complainants’ concerns.

Twitter and Facebook are causing an uproar among conservatives ahead of the 2020 election when it is decided the distribution of the Post’s story that claimed to show “smoking gun” emails about then-Democratic nominee Biden’s son. A Biden spokesperson at the time said the Post didn’t ask the campaign about key details in the story and refuted allegations in the report.

Twitter said that it decided to block links to the story based on its “Hacked Material Policy” that prohibited “the use of our services to distribute content obtained through hacking that contains private information directly, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets.” The Post article contained unredacted email addresses that supposedly came from a source unauthorized to disclose it.

Later, the company changed that policy, which said it would only remove content directly shared by hackers or those who work with them. It said it would label tweets with additional context instead of blocking them from being shared on the platform at all.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called the initial response of the company is blocking the link without explanation “unacceptable.”

In their statement, Dickerson and Trainor write that a platform like Twitter does not have an obligation to be politically neutral.

Twitter’s head of site integrity had been warned by officials in federal law enforcement that state actors could be releasing hacked information of political targets like Hunter Biden, according to a document signed by the FEC’s acting general counsel recommending the commission not find Twitter in violation of the law.

The agency found no evidence that Twitter coordinated its response with the Biden campaign. In a sworn declaration, Twitter’s head of U.S. public policy Lauren Culbertson said she was unaware of any contact with the campaign before the decisions.

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